Philanthropy an important task in Hollywood
Although celebrities are mostly known for the glitz and glamour of red carpet events, movie premieres and awards shows, many of them have ventured outside this stereotype.
They use their money for more than just material possessions, contributing their money to charity and using their status and fame to support good causes.
Angelina Jolie is an example of a celebrity that has gone beyond the set of a movie, stretching her influence to several countries around the world.
Jolie has been the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees since 2001, and is currently on a U.S government mission with the state department to Iraq. Jolie is there to learn about the refugees and displaced people all around the country and help implement a plan to get these people settled and back into their homes.
According to the UN refugee agents’ Web site, Jolie has traveled to Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Balkans and the North Caucasus to raise awareness and support for refugees.
Jolie has visited more than 20 countries and regions, meeting with refugees and field workers.
The actress spoke with these refugees and listened to their stories, recording her experience in journals along the way that can be viewed on the UNHCR’s international Web site.
Jolie is an active participant during World Refugee Day on June 20 every year, hosting events and speaking to the media about her concern for refugees. On World Refugee Day in 2006, Jolie appeared on a 30-second public service announcement urging people not to forget about refugees. Her plea was aired all around the world.
According to the UNHCR Web site, Jolie and her partner, actor Brad Pitt, donated $1 million from the Jolie-Pitt foundation in May 2007 to humanitarian efforts helping millions of people devastated by the crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region.
The money the pair donated will go to three agencies that play key roles in Darfur and the neighboring country of Chad, UNHCR said in a press release. These agencies provide humanitarian assistance to millions of people displaced in Darfur and Chad.
Jolie has dipped her toes in many humanitarian projects. In 2005, she launched the National Centre for Refugee and Immigrant children.
According to the UNHCR Web site, this organization makes it so that “children fleeing persecution and arriving alone in the United States will now have better access to free legal counsel.”
The Web site defines these children as people who fled armed conflicts and human rights abuses in their countries, including forced prostitution, child labor, sexual slavery and forced recruitment of child soldiers.
Christine Barthe, 21, a senior majoring in MCD biology, said that Jolie is using her fame and her wealth to help influence great causes and is doing the right thing.
“I think people that have that a lot of money should help those who are less fortunate because there’s no way they could use it all on themselves,” Barthe said. “I think what she’s doing is amazing because she helps out in a lot of different ways since she is an ambassador, and she has adopted children from other countries – I think it’s admirable.”
Jolie has put in her time and effort to help raise awareness to certain causes, but many other celebrities are also helping out.
Bono, lead singer of the band U2, is an advocate for AIDS in Africa, helping to create and start the RED campaign.
According to the RED campaign’s Web site, RED is designed to raise money and awareness for the Global Fund by working with the world’s most popular brands to produce (PRODUCT)RED branded products. A percentage of each (PRODUCT)RED sale is given to programs that help women and children affected by AIDS in Africa.
Companies involved in making (PRODUCT)RED products include the Gap, Apple (which came out with a special edition (PRODUCT)RED iPod nano), American Express, Converse, Hallmark and Dell.
Gap introduced a line of limited edition clothing and accessories for men and women, with a percentage of all sales going to the AIDS fight in Africa. They enlisted celebrities to help with the campaign, including Steven Spielberg, Chris Rock, Jennifer Garner and Penelope Cruz, who wore (Product)RED outfits in support of the cause.
Bijan Bewley, 19, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, said he does not believe that just appearing in the RED campaign or giving money is enough. He said he believes those who give services as well as donations are the real, shining advocates.
Bewley also said he believes celebrities are not authentic in their efforts.
“I think it is rare when a celebrity is absolutely genuine,” he said. “It is easy to just say, ‘Look at the money I have given to charity.’ It is more respectful when you actually give a service. I don’t know where the money goes when it’s given to the RED campaign – it is not direct enough.”
Madonna is another celebrity using her fame to help people in need.
On Feb. 6, Madonna hosted a UNICEF event in support of children in Malawi, as well as other poor children around the world. According to Eonline.com, Madonna helped raise $3.7 million for the charity.
Celebrity supporters like Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashton Kutcher were all there to support the cause and use their star power to give it attention.
According to Eonline.com, the event featured a live auction where the biggest selling items were a chance to tour with Madonna, which included a dance class with her and Gwyneth Paltrow, that sold for $600,000.
Connor Meznarich, a sophomore majoring in humanities, said he believes celebrities are doing a good deed by giving money to good causes because other people around the world cannot afford to help like they can.
“I think it is a good thing they’re putting money into causes,” Meznarich said. “A lot of average people can’t put in the same amount of money; like me, I am a starving student.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Melanie Cohn at Melanie.Cohn@colorado.edu.